After more than a year of fundraising, book drives and planning, the construction of the Kumbo Public Library has begun. The Himalayan Institute in partnership with the Honesdale Rotary sent 25,000 books and archival quality shelving units to Kumbo, Cameroon. The Himalayan Institute Cameroon community center was chosen to house the new library, and plans have been drawn up to convert the center’s main hall.
On September 28, 2009, community members and HIC staff began to move the shelving units and books out of storage and into what will be their permanent location. Hundreds of boxes of books were carried by hand and by wheelbarrow. Once the books were brought into the building, a second team began the project of sorting, organizing and alphabetizing the books.
Because of the generous fundraising efforts of the Honesdale Rotary, the hall for the library will be completely renovated with new furniture and structural improvements. The Himalayan Institute School of Carpentry & Construction (C&C) has undertaken the complete renovation and furnishing of the library. C&C technicians are building custom-made tables, desks and chairs for the library. In addition, the windows are being upgraded, so that the library can be a fully climate controlled facility. This will ensure that the books last for many generations.
Community education programs will be hosted at the library, including adult literacy classes, children’s afterschool programs, and educational video nights where films such as Plant Earth will be projected onto the 12 foot cinema wall. Three computers will be available in the library for educational use and they will be loaded with Wikipedia For Schools, an offline version of Wikipedia that is about the size of a twenty volume encyclopedia. So even when the computers are not connected to the internet, students can still do research and access up-to-date information. The library will have a reading room, children’s learning area, and a section devoted to textbooks. Books on average make up 44% of annual school expenses for students in Kumbo. Having access to textbooks through a public library will help make going to school more affordable.
Thanks to all of the help from the local community, the library will be open by the end of the year.